Disclaimer: I do not own, nor am I in any way associated with, Community.
AN: Written for a prompt from Jeff/Britta week over at community_tv on LJ.
Prompt: Jeff catsits for Britta.
She was leaving. Which was fine. That wasn't the problem. She'd explained her reasons to him in detail while she packed and he sat on the dresser, regarding her patiently. She was nomadic, he got that. And he also got that he was too old and damaged to board a plane. Which was a lie she had said about a million times. He could handle a plane easy, but that she worried about him soothed his pride.
The problem was that she was leaving him with him. That was not fine. He was the man who smelled like fake rainforests and whose name she said far too often.
So it became clear to Captain Scruffers while he was handed over and Britta said her awkward goodbyes to the man she called Jeff, that he had a duty to perform while his mistress was away. The human male must die.
Ten minutes after Britta left, Jeff and Captain Scruffers were still in the middle of a staring match.
"So," Jeff said, finally blinking at the cat who had taken up residence on the only good chair in the whole apartment, "you're a cat."
Captain Scruffers intensified his glare.
"I'm a person."
And Captain Scruffers wasn't?
"You probably noticed that already. I've never actually had a cat. Or a pet of any kind. Ever. So this is gonna be an experience for both of us. But how hard can it be? Crazy cat ladies do it. All I ask from you is that you survive in good health until Britta gets back at the end of the month. Okay?"
Captain Scruffers did not move.
"Oooookay. I'm talking to a cat and expecting a response. Nice, Winger. Nothing crazy about that." He turned away and went into the small kitchen area of the apartment, hunting for something to eat.
The human occupied, Captain Scruffers removed his claws from the fabric of the chair, leaving behind several ugly scars as he leapt lightly atop the coffee table. The remote control hit the carpeted floor with a dull thud and was quickly followed by the can of soda that had been left foolishly unguarded. Captain Scruffers returned to his place on the chair, tactfully covering up the first set of scratches with his tail while he made a whole new set several inches away.
"Okay, Scruffy," Jeff said, smiling at the cat over the counter dividing kitchen from living room. "How about some pizza? Anchovies for you?"
He took Captain Scruffers' look of derision as a yes and grabbed the phone.
The call made, Jeff returned to the living room.
"How about some TV while we wait, huh?"
Captain Scruffers blinked his one eye.
"And I'm talking to the cat again. Really have to stop that." He made for the lumpy sofa but stopped when his socked foot hit soda-saturated carpet. A string of satisfying curses erupted from him and Captain Scruffers purred gladly.
Twenty-four minutes later, Jeff was down on his knees, scrubbing the carpet and yelling to the sugar-smelling lady over the phone. Apparently her no-fail trick for lifting soda stains was a bit trickier than Jeff could handle. When a knock sounded on the door he vaulted over the couch and pulled it open, holding the phone to his chest to keep the sugar-smelling lady from hearing the delivery guy.
"Keep the change," he whispered, then lifted the phone to his ear again. "No, Shirley, of course it wasn't the pizza guy. I'm eating real food now, you know that. … Um, it was some girl scouts selling cookies. … The more important question here is, why wouldn't I buy girl scout cookies? I bought some thin mints. … Sure, I'll go flag them down and buy some for you and the boys. Thanks again for the help with the stain. … Yeah, bye." Jeff looked at Captain Scruffers. "Now I have to find some girl scouts to buy cookies from."
Captain Scruffers did not feel his pain but Jeff didn't seem to mind or even notice.
"Well, that stain's never leaving. Time to rearrange the furniture," he added with a smile for Captain Scruffers. "Gah! Stop talking to the cat!" He dropped the pizza box on the table and began pulling at Captain Scruffers' chair.
The cat jumped off and went to inspect the pizza box.
"What the-! Fluffy!"
Captain Scruffers chose to ignore the name and enjoy the anger instead.
"Bad cat! No anchovy pizza for you!"
Captain Scruffers nibbled on a stale anchovy pizza while Jeff drank a beer and watched Animal Planet. With the remote ruined they were stuck watching lions kill gazelles, which was torture for Jeff, and the Dog Whisperer, which was torture for Captain Scruffers.
Clearly Captain Scruffers had to step up his efforts to destroy the human.
Oh, that's nice!" the sugar-smelling woman said while she scratched the spot just under the strap of Captain Scruffers' eye patch, eliciting a purr of contentment from the cat.
Jeff glared. It had become clear to even him after the remote, the chair, the backed up toilet, the remote again (the new one had been buried in the litter box within an hour of its arrival), and the yowling all night, that Captain Scruffers had it in for him.
"What's wrong, Jeffrey?"
"The cat is evil," he said simply, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"Oh! He's not evil!" She picked Captain Scruffers up and cooed to him, "You're just a cute little ball of sweetness! Yes, you are! Yes, you are!"
"Don't baby-talk to the cat. He's the devil."
Shirley returned Captain Scruffers to her lap, where he had a perfect view of Jeff's disgusted expression. He curled his tail happily.
"Now, Jeff. Don't you think you're being a little harsh? You said yourself you'd never had a pet before. Maybe you just need to get used to it."
"Used to it? That thing is out to get me!"
"This little fluff ball? He wouldn't hurt a fly." She cuddled Captain Scruffers to her chest and he purred more loudly.
"You know the only time I've ever heard him make that sound before was when I was cleaning up some mess he made or discovering a new one."
"Then that's your own fault! He needs love! You can't just feed him and clean up after him. You have to pet him and hold him too."
"I tried! I tried and he nearly bit my finger off!" He held up his heavily bandaged hand as evidence.
"You probably scared him is all." Shirley stood, transferring Captain Scruffers to her shoulder like a baby and leading the way into the kitchen. "Now let's see what you've got to eat in this place."
Jeff glared at Captain Scruffers and whispered. "I'm on to you."
Captain Scruffers woke up just before dawn. His original sleeping place, just behind Jeff's back so that the man couldn't roll off his side, had been warm and cozy but it had occurred to him suddenly that there was a much better place to sleep.
He daintily slipped out from under the covers and waited for Jeff to lay on his back once more. It didn't take long and the man smiled happily in his sleep as he did it. Captain Scruffers saw the last number on the clock change three times before he climbed up the pillow and curled up over Jeff's mouth and nose. Within seconds Jeff was sniffing, then came the attempts to open his mouth, followed by slight turns of the head, and finally …
"Yah!" Jeff roared, sitting up in bed and dumping a very put out Captain Scruffers onto his lap.
Captain Scruffers shook himself out and stepped over Jeff's legs with a haughty look over his shoulder.
"Oh," Jeff said, "I'm sorry. Did I wake you up with my pesky need to breathe?"
Captain Scruffers flicked his tail like a woman popping her hip.
Jeff fell back on his pillow with a groan. His heartbeat was just settling when a knock sounded at his door.
He moaned and pulled himself out of bed. "Wh-h-hy?" he asked as he stumbled down the hall. He didn't bother grabbing a shirt, instead trusting that anyone who came by at this ungodly hour was prepared to see a man wearing only pajama bottoms.
Captain Scruffers sat on the back of the couch, watching him with a contented look.
"You're just loving this, aren't you?" Jeff spat before opening the door.
"Hi?" a perky brunette in a pink tank top said.
"Hi," Jeff said, shocked to find something so not-annoying waiting for him.
As the outside air filtered inside, Captain Scruffers caught a whiff and streaked across the room and up Jeff's back, onto his shoulder.
"Yow!" Jeff cried, leaping from foot to foot. "Holy-! What are you doing?"
Captain Scruffers ignored him, focusing instead on maintaining his perch and staring down the dog standing beside the woman.
Jeff calmed down when he realized Captain Scruffers probably wasn't going to bite his ear off.
"Oh! I didn't know you had a cat!" the tank-top woman said.
Captain Scruffers glared at the implication that he would be owned by this man.
"I'm just sitting," Jeff said with all the enthusiasm Captain Scruffers felt on the topic. "Did you need something?"
The woman twiddled her thumbs. "Well, I was just getting ready for my morning run and I heard you yell. I was worried something was wrong."
"No," Jeff said, his voice more pleasant than Captain Scruffers had heard it since Britta left them. "Garfield here just tried to kill me in my sleep is all."
Captain Scruffers started. Jeff was smarter than he thought if he realized the sleeping position was a murder attempt. Most humans who liked cats weren't even that smart.
"Oh," the woman said, smiling faintly. "Well, I'm glad you survived. Maybe to celebrate you'd like to have breakfast?"
Out of the corner of his eye Captain Scruffers saw Jeff smile. What kind of dog considered going out with a mouse like this when a queen like Britta was waiting for him? Captain Scruffers unsheathed his claws and calmly dug into Jeff's shoulder. The smile turned abruptly to a wince.
"No thanks," he said. "I've gotta take care of this guy. But thanks for your concern."
"Oh. No problem." Tank-top woman pulled her dog away and the two animals exchanged a hiss and a growl before the door closed.
"Okay," Jeff said, carefully extracting Captain Scruffers from his shoulder. "No more climbing on Jeff for you, mister." He dropped him on the couch and Captain Scruffers hurried to his favored position on the chair. "And thanks for saving me from Courtney," he added quietly. "She keeps flirting but that dog of hers isn't winning her any points. That thing drools."
Captain Scruffers put his head on his paws, unsure of how to deal with a Jeff who he agreed with.
"That's right, Imhotep," Jeff said, staring blearily at the TV screen. "Cats are evil."
"Cats aren't evil, man," Troy said. "Are you even watching the same movie we are?"
"Jeff is just identifying with the antagonist because of his current real life troubles," Abed said. "He feels as though the whole world is out to get him, much like the whole world seems out to get Imhotep."
"You aren't obsessing over not being a lawyer anymore, are you, man? Because that is so last year."
"He's mad about Britta's cat."
"What? Is he mad he doesn't get to keep him?"
That brought Jeff out of his alcohol-induced stupor. "Keep him? Keep him! That thing is a menace!" He leapt up from his seat between the two boys and pointed at Captain Scruffers, who was licking himself on the chair. "If anything I should drive into the city, kick him into an alley, and leave him there so that Britta won't be exposed to his evil anymore!"
Jeff's chest heaved, his breath coming in great gulps as he glared at the cat. Captain Scruffers purred up at him, idly pulling one claw through the duct tape that had been applied to the chair cushion.
"Jeff," Troy said slowly, "we'd really appreciate it if you calmed down. You're talking about murdering Britta's cat."
"To protect Britta!" Jeff thundered.
Abed lifted a finger. "Britta loves her cat. His death will ultimately hurt her. Especially so soon after the deaths of her last two cats."
Jeff deflated slightly and slumped back onto the couch. Troy lifted his eyebrows at Abed, who simply nodded as if the whole matter was finished.
Day 16 (barely):
Abed and Troy let themselves out after the last Mummy film finished, leaving the mostly drunk Jeff alone with Captain Scruffers. Both boys had assured Jeff that they'd be back the next day to make sure Captain Scruffers was still alive and well.
Jeff watched Captain Scruffers eyes glow in the dim light of the room.
Captain Scruffers watched Jeff doze under the influence of alcohol.
"We need to stop," Jeff said, heaving himself up and resting his arms on his knees as his body got used to the change in elevation. "You hate me. I hate you. Whatever. But I think we can both agree on one very important thing: Britta is pretty cool. You think we can just keep agreeing on that until she gets back?"
Captain Scruffers' tail flicked slowly back and forth, the swish interrupted by a slight tug on the duct tape once every round. Jeff was just about to scold himself for actually trying to talk to the cat when Captain Scruffers slipped off the chair. He rounded the coffee table, stepping pertly over Jeff's feet and never once touching him. When he reached the other side of the room he looked back as if to say, "Fine. For now," and disappeared into the darkness.
It was good enough for Jeff.
Jeff woke up happy. The last twenty-four hours had been wonderful. All litter had remained in its box, no one had tried to trip him on his way down the hall, and even though he still didn't get to sit in his favorite chair, it wasn't damaged any further.
He was so happy that he decided to take Captain Scruffers on a morning jog with him. Dog owners did it all the time, after all, why not cat owners? Not having a leash he instead found a roll of measuring tape and strung it through the loop in Captain Scruffers' collar.
"Don't you dare run off on me," Jeff admonished before opening the apartment door.
Once on the sidewalk they began a slow jog, Captain Scruffers keeping up more out of pride than actual enjoyment of the activity. They earned a few curious looks, which was to be expected. Captain Scruffers was a jogging cat, he was on the end of a measuring tape leash, and he had only one eye. He looked weird. Weirdness, apparently, was what tank-top girl next door's dog hated most in the world.
As the maddened barking began Captain Scruffers dodged once, twice around Jeff's legs before the tape measure came undone and he was free. The mastiff hot on his tail he ran to the only open area available.
"Captain Scruffers!" Jeff bellowed over the screech of tires.
"Why doesn't she eat the pig anyway?" Jeff asked as the meerkat ranted. "I mean, really, he's not doing anything useful and she's clearly hungry. Plus he's the second most annoying character in the movie." He glanced at the cat curled contentedly up beside him. "You agree with me right?"
A knock sounded at the door. Jeff paused the DVD and stood, hurrying around the couch to answer.
"Britta!" he gasped.
"Hi, Jeff!" She smiled up at him and moved past into the apartment. "I know I'm a few days early but I just had to see my boys! Where's Captain Scruffers?" She began looking around, waiting for a dark streak of fur to come racing at her.
"Britta," Jeff said gently, touching her shoulder. "About Captain Scruffers."
Britta whirled, his tone making her face pale and her heart skip a beat.
"What happened?" she asked fearfully. "Come on, Jeff, I can take it."
Jeff took both of her shoulders and looked her in the eye when he said, "Captain Scruffers got hit by a car."
Britta gasped, a small sound that got caught in her throat and stayed there as Jeff hurried on.
"But it's okay. I fixed everything and -"
"Do not tell me you got me a new cat, Jeff Winger. That is not going to make this better." She pulled away from him and stared blindly over the couch at the paused screen. "I don't blame you," she added. "He was old and he wasn't in the best health. I just - I thought I'd have more time, you know?"
"Britta," Jeff said slowly. "Captain Scruffers is fine."
She whirled, grabbing onto the front of his shirt both for balance and emphasis. "What!"
"He's got a broken leg and the injuries actually allowed them to get a bullet out of him that they couldn't reach before - I don't know. It was all very weird. But he's fine. He's just sitting on the couch."
Britta rushed around the furniture and sat gently down beside Captain Scruffers. The cat dragged himself into her lap, making it clear he wanted no help. Jeff joined them as Britta carefully examined Captain Scruffers' cast.
"You gonna tell me the bullet story?" Jeff asked when Britta finished and Captain Scruffers began licking her hand in greeting.
"You'll have to ask him. It was before my time." She smiled at the little monster and scratched behind his ears. "How did you two make out aside from the car-hitting?"
"Okay, I guess. It was touch-and-go for a while there."
Britta's mouth quirked. "Oh? Not an animal person, Winger?"
"Well, no. But it was more of a guy thing."
"A guy thing? How was it a guy thing?" Britta asked, her expression torn between a frown and amusement.
"I think Captain Scruffers might be a little jealous," Jeff said, earning him an annoyed glance from the cat. "And maybe I am a little too."
Captain Scruffers' glance softened in surprise.
"Yes," Jeff added, looking at him, "I am jealous of you. You get her all the time and she knits you eye patches."
"Do you want me to knit you an eye patch, Jeff?" Britta asked, biting her lip.
"No," he said, almost petulantly. "I'm just saying -" He waved his arms, searching for the right words. "We're 'your guys,'" he sighed finally. "But we made it work."
"Before or after the cast?"
"Before, of course. We agreed that you're awesome." He shrugged. "It was something to agree on anyway."
Britta laughed. "You are so weird, Jeff. You really do belong at Greendale. So is he ready to go home or should I stick around for the rest of the movie?"
"Oh, you can't make him leave now," Jeff said, moving closer on pretext of settling into the couch, "this is a modern classic."
Britta settled in too, moving closer. "Really? You guys like it that much?"
"What's not to like? Drama. Cats. We both hate the pig though."
"Hmm," Britta said noncommittally.
Captain Scruffers didn't worry about her non-answer, he was happy just to have his favorite seat in all the world back.
Jeff didn't worry either, happy as he was to have her head on his shoulder.
AN: I hate having ANs at the end but I figured I should say that Jeff watches The Mummy with Troy and Abed and The Lion King with Captain Scruffers.
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